The Sinister Attacks on Israeli Offers of Aid to Lebanon

August 10, 2020 | Lahav Harkov
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“The only encouraging thing” about the deadly explosion in Beirut, wrote the former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt on Twitter, “is that even Israel has been quick in offering humanitarian aid.” Had Bildt been better informed, he might have known that there is nothing new or unusual about the Jewish state offering humanitarian assistance to its Arab neighbors—or to more far-flung nations. Yet his bizarre comment was less hostile than the reactions of those who rushed to dismiss the offer as a meaningless public-relations stunt. Lahav Harkov writes:

First, the facts. Israel did not only make bombastic announcements; it genuinely made an offer. National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and others gave serious proposals to UN representatives in the region, who passed Israel’s message on to Lebanese officials. There has been no response . . . it remains unclear if Lebanon will actually accept the aid.

Israel, as a world leader in search-and-rescue missions and disaster response, has a lot to offer Lebanon in its time of great need. Israel has sent humanitarian-aid missions around the world since the 1953 earthquake in Greece’s Ionian islands. From 2016 to 2018, it treated victims of the Syrian civil war in Operation Good Neighbor. Plus, there are Israeli NGOs, such as IsrAID and Israel Flying Aid, which go to war and disaster zones to help people in need of medical care, food, clothes, and other supplies, or Save a Child’s Heart, which brings children from around the world to Israel for treatment.

[Nevertheless], there are people perpetuating the idea that any positive action from Israel must have an ulterior motive. . . . If Israeli search-and-rescue equipment pulls someone out from under the rubble in Beirut, that person is unlikely to ask to be put back because Israel had a hand in saving him or her.

[But] this is yet another example of the double standards and moral relativism in so many anti-Israel messages. You’d be hard-pressed to find too many other countries that face this kind of delegitimization campaign over a charitable humanitarian gesture. Plus, wouldn’t it make more sense to criticize countries that don’t send humanitarian aid than to judge the aid as not sincere enough?

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